Akeelah And The Bee (PG)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner15/08/2006

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Cliched but nonetheless enjoyable drama with a likeable central performance from Palmer and strong support from the likes of Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne.

What's it all about?
Keke Palmer plays Akeelah Anderson, a precocious 11 year old girl from South Los Angeles who has inherited her dead father's passion for words. Despite the objections from her overworked mother Tanya (Angela Bassett), Akeelah decides to enter a series of spelling contests with the aim of competing in the National Spelling Bee.

Akeelah faces several obstacles on her way to the National Bee but she receives help from several unexpected quarters, not least from troubled ex-academic Dr Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), who agrees to tutor her. She also finds a friend in fellow competitor Javier (JR Villareal) and eventually finds the entire community rallying around her.

The Good
Akeelah's precociousness could have been unbearable in the hands of a less likeable actress but Keke Palmer remains engaging and sympathetic throughout. Laurence Fishburne (who also co-produced) and Angela Bassett are both excellent, although Bassett's character is frustratingly underdeveloped at times.

The supporting cast are equally good. Curtis Armstrong brings an engagingly nerdy edge to the character of Principal Welch, while JR Villareal steals every scene as the likeable, wisecracking and good-hearted Javier.

The Bad
It's fair to say that the script is extremely cliched throughout and that there are no real surprises. However, these are good cliches rather than bad ones and the important thing is that they work, particularly during the various competition scenes.

Akeelah and the Bee is the first feature to be made by Starbucks Entertainment, which is something of a disturbing trend. In addition, the film veers dangerously towards sentimentality towards the end, but not quite enough to spoil it.

Worth seeing?
In short, this isn't a patch on Spellbound (the 2002 Spelling Bee documentary) but its strong performances and its skilful deployment of the finest, hand-picked cliches ensures that it remains enjoyable throughout.

Film Trailer

Akeelah And The Bee (PG)
Be the first to review Akeelah And The Bee...
image
01 Into the Storm (tbc)

Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sump...

image
02 Horrible Bosses 2 (tbc)

Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennif...

image
03 God's Pocket (tbc)

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Rich...

image
04 Wakolda (tbc)

Alex Brendemuhl, Diego Peretti, Guillermo Pfening

image
05 Annabelle (tbc)

Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Eric Ladin

Content updated: 29/07/2014 23:53

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Mood Indigo (12A)

Breathtakingly imaginative and beautifully designed, this is an engaging, funny and ultimately moving love story. Starring Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hot Tickets

Film 4 Summer ScreenFilm 4 Summer Screen

Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2014, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital.